Thursday, 5 December 2013 | 20 comments

John Besh’s sunny-side up egg

How quickly are you going to tune out knowing that this post is about how to fry an egg? There is more than one way to skin a cat, the saying goes, but I don’t think there are infinite ways to do it. Which is why I’m suspicious whenever some celebrity chef takes one of the simplest types of cooking and “reveals” it as a special technique (I always think of this Rachel Ray recipe—be sure to delve into the comments). So when I was listening to The Splendid Table a few weeks ago and heard New Orleans chef John Besh gush over how he thinks every cook should know how to make this particular creamy, perfect sunny-side up egg, I rolled my eyes and almost turned it off. But I eat a lot of eggs—these babies are starting to lay and we’re inundated—so I listened. Besh starts the egg in a cold cast iron skillet, rubbed liberally with butter. A cold skillet. So, this is already different than any sputtering fried egg I’ve ever cooked. The egg cooks slowly, opacity creeping through the albumen in this totally satisfying way. You use your finger to test the yolk doneness, stopping when you can feel that it’s heated through. You dress it with only a little sea salt. It’s a bit esoteric and takes an admittedly longer time to cook than my normal 3-minute overeasy, but this egg is awesome. The white (which is kind of my least favorite part of an egg) stays creamy rather than rubbery, and the yolk is just barely cooked through. I had this post in draft the past two weeks thinking that it wasn’t special enough to talk about, but I’m still thinking about it, so I thought I would share. Keep on the sunny side, friends.

John Besh’s sunny-side up egg

You’ll need

  1. 1 egg, preferably fresh and from a chicken who gets pasture
  2. 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  3. A few liberal pinches sea salt


  1. Rub a cast iron skillet with the butter. (A smaller skillet will serve you best here because it limits spreading while the egg is cooking, but large ones still work.) Crack the egg into the skillet carefully.
  2. Place the skillet over medium heat. You don’t want the egg to sputter or the butter to brown much at all. Modulate the heat as necessary to do this. The white will slowly become opaque. When it is fully white, gently touch the yolk. It will likely feel cold. Continue slowly cooking until the yolk begins to warm to the touch.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow it to sit for a minute or two–the yolk will continue to cook. Sprinkle with sea salt and eat immediately.


§ 20 responses to John Besh’s sunny-side up egg

  • Ha! That Rachel Ray post is awesome–even better than the recipe for ice cubes commentary, previously my favorite in the genre.

  • I’ve had rotten luck frying eggs all week. Some combination of impatience/hunger and the surface of my skillet having gotten a bit wonky. I’ll have to try this the next time I want an egg (likely tomorrow). I almost never attempt sunny-side up eggs just because the whites tend to overcook before the yolk really sets. This sounds promising.

  • This is a great tip! I only know how to make scrambled eggs, but I will now have to shake things up, and give sunny-side up eggs a try. Thanks for sharing!

  • That is one good looking egg on your plate!

  • meg

    This is excellent – thank you for sharing!

  • I have just the little pan for this. Who doesn’t need another egg recipe? I ate eggs for dinner tonight, after all.

  • I thought you were mad starting this post, but now I am actually going to try this!

  • Thanks for sharing this recipe! There is nothing like a good fried egg, and this method is something that I’m definitely going to try.

  • And I just might try this. Also not a fan of the egg white bit of sunny side eggs. Thank you for the tip.

  • Annelies

    I eat eggs like they’re going out of style, so you are speaking my language.

  • Margot Van Schaick

    Thanks for posting this–I’ve always used low to medium heat in cooking eggs but have never started with a cold pan. Will definitely try this method. For me, eggs are a wonderful way to get a delicious helping of protein and stay within my meager food budget. My landlady gives me a dozen or so eggs from her sister-in-law every week, terrific eggs with orange yolks, from free-range hens living in the country, in Vermont. So good!

  • i am ALWAYS all ears for minutiae like this — indeed, it’s in the wacky little details that so many simple meals rise or fall. also, i have five dozen local eggs in my fridge. we eat a LOT of eggs. will give this a go, within the week.

    thanks for taking a gample and hitting publish, from one very grateful reader :)


  • Megan Kilpatrick

    This is nuts… a totally lazy and awesome and delicious way!

  • Gretchen

    Bummer, they took down the comments on the Rachel Ray post. But since it was a “recipe” for microwaving bacon I can imagine why they might have had to stop the bleeding.

  • sarah

    another lonely night cured by your suggestion at the rachel ray comments. between that and browsing google images of paul newman, it was an over all entertaining evening. and how did I miss the post about your chicks last may?

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  • Dawnrider

    Just tried this, had to turn the pan to low really quick. Eggs got really brown, sputtered like crazy, stuck to the bottom, and the whites on top didn’t cook properly.

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